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Education Structure in Belgium

The Education System in Belgium is  regulated and composed of three communities- Flemish, French and German-speaking community. The majority of German-speaking community people in Belgium take admittance in either Flemish or French educational institutions. 

Belgium Education-Flemish Community

School Education (Flemish Community)

Primary Education in Belgium Flemish community is of six years in duration and after successful completion of the course, a Primary Education Certificate (Getuigschrift van Lager Onderwijs) is awarded. 

Students between the ages 12-18 may go for secondary education which is divided into 4 branches: 
  • General Secondary Schools (ASO)
  • Technical Secondary (TSO)
  • Art Secondary (KSO)
  • Vocational Secondary (BSO)
Each branch is split up into three two-year periods. During the first 2 years, students study basic education subjects, while in the third and fourth year of secondary education,  they can go for a certain branch of study within ASO, TSO, BSO, or KSO.  Students also have the option of going for a 7th year after the sixth TSO, BSO, or KSO year, or study for a 5th year after the fourth Vocational Secondary (BSO) year. During the 5th and 6th secondary education years, students are either prepared for higher education or for occupation, depending upon the choice of the student. After completion of the ASO, BSO or TSO education, a Diploma of Secondary Education is awarded to the students (Diploma van Secundair Onderwijs)

Higher Education (Flemish Community)

Higher education in Belgium-Flemish Community is provided by the Universities and University colleges (In Flemish: "Hogescholen").  Students holding a secondary school diploma are eligible for higher education. For certain faculties of studies, like Medicine and dentistry, Engineering Science, Management Science and Arts, admission is based on the entrance examinations. 
The degree structure in the Flemish Community follows comprises of Bachelor, Master and Doctorate degree, or PhD.  Profession-oriented Bachelor's degrees are provided only in university colleges and two-tier Bachelor's and Master’s degrees are provided in both the Universities and University colleges in Belgium. The PhD is the highest level of specialization and is only awarded by Universities in Belgium. Assessment is done by a credit system that is based on ECTS. The ECTS credit mechanism has been used since 1991 in universities and since 1994 in university colleges. 

Structure of Belgium Education-Flemish Community

Compulsory Education

  • Entry Age: 6 years old
  • Exit Age: 18 years old

Pre-School

  • School Type: Pre-School Education Schools 
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Age: 2-6 years old

Primary/ Elementary Education

  • School Type: Primary School
  • Duration: 6 years
  • Age: 6-12 years old
  • Credential: Primary Education Certificate (Getuigschrift van Lager Onderwijs)

Secondary Education

The Secondary Education in Belgium-Flemish Community is divided into four branches-

General Secondary Education

  • School Type: General Secondary Education Schools (ASO)
  • Duration: 6 years
  • Age group: 12-18 years old
  • Credential:  Secondary Education Diploma (Diploma van Secundair Onderwijs)

Art Secondary Education

  • School Type: Artistic Secondary Education Schools (KSO)
  • Duration: 6 years
  • Age group: 12-18 years old
  • Credential:  Secondary Education Diploma (Diploma van Secundair Onderwijs)

Technical Secondary Education

  • School Type: Technical Secondary Education Schools (TSO)
  • Duration: 6 years
  • Age group: 12-18 years old
  • Credential:  Secondary Education Diploma (Diploma van Secundair Onderwijs)

Vocational Secondary Education

  • School Type offering this education: Vocational Secondary Education Schools (BSO)
  • Duration: 7 years
  • Age group: 12-19 years old
  • Credential:  Secondary Education Diploma (Diploma van Secundair Onderwijs)
Also, there are part-time education centres and retailer’s training centres in Belgium offering professional and apprenticeship courses respectively. 

Professional Education

  • School Type: Part-Time Education Centres (CDO)
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Age: 15-18 years old

Apprenticeship

  • School Type offering this education: Retailer's Training Centres
  • Age: 16 years old

Higher or Tertiary Education

Students after completing secondary education can opt for higher education. 
  • Age: 18 years and above
Higher Education Institutions in Belgium-Flemish Community are:
  • University (Universiteit)
  • University College (Hogeschool)
Higher Education Qualifications in Belgium-Flemish Community are-

First Stage: Bachelor’s degree

  • Duration: 3 years

Second Stage: Master’s Degree

  • Duration: 1-2 years
  • Credential: Licentiate (Licence)

Third Stage: Doctoral Studies

  • Duration: 2 years
  • Credential: Doctorate (Doctorat)

Belgium Education-French Community

School Education- French Community

Primary education in Belgium-French Community lasts for 6 years and a CEB Certificat d'Etudes de Base is awarded after completion of it. The Secondary education is split into three stages of 2-years each and is provided by 4 different types of schools- general education, artistic education, technical education, and vocational/professional education.

Higher Education-French Community

Higher Education in Belgium-French Community is classed as –

University Education: The University Education Institution is Universities and provided long-term education only.

Non-university Education: The Non-University Higher Education Institutions are
  • University Colleges (Hautes Ecoles)
  • Architecture Colleges (Instituts superieurs d'architecture)
  • Colleges of Arts (Ecoles superieures des Arts)
The University Colleges and Colleges of Arts provide long-term as well as short-term courses/programmes, while the Architecture Colleges provide only long-term courses. 

The University and Non-University Education long-term courses offer general, scientific and theoretical studies at the undergraduate stage, thereby, leading to graduate specialized studies, i.e. a Master’s degree. At the end of the graduate studies, pupils have to present and defend a personal study or a short thesis. 

Structure of Belgium Education- French Community

Period of Compulsory Education

  • Entry Age: 6 years old
  • Exit Age: 18 years old

Primary Education 

  • School Type: Primary Schools
  • Duration: 6 years
  • Age group: 6-12 years old
  • Credential Awarded: Certificat d'Etudes de Base (CEB)

Secondary Education

Secondary Education-Observation

  • School Type: Secondary Education-First Degree (Enseignement Secondaire - Premier Degre)
  • Duration: 2 years
  • Age: 12-14 years
  • Credential: Certificat d'Etudes de Base (CEB) 

Secondary Education-Orientation/Guidance

  • School Type: Secondary education-Second Degree (Enseignement Secondaire - 2e Degre)
  • Duration: 2 years
  • Age: 14-16 years old 
  • Credential: Secondary Education Certificate of Second Degree (Certificat d'Enseignement Secondaire du Deuxieme Degre) 

Secondary Education-Determination

  • School Type: Secondary Education 3rd Grade (Enseignement secondaire 3eme degree)
  • Duration: 2 years
  • Age: 16-18 years old
  • Credential: General Certificate of Secondary Education Higher , technical or artistic (Certificat d'Enseignement secondaire superieur general, technique ou artistique, or CESS); Qualification Certificate (Certificat de Qualification)

Secondary Education -Determination

  • School Type: Secondary Education 3rd Grade (Enseignement secondaire 3eme degree)
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Age: 16-19 years old
  • Credential: Study of secondary vocational education certificate
  •  (Certificat d'etudes de l'enseignement secondaire professionnel); Qualification Certificate (Certificat de Qualification)

Pre-University Education

  • School Type: Preparation au Superieur
  • Duration: 1 year
  • Age: 18-19 years old

Higher Education

  • Age: 18 years and above

Higher Education Institutions in Belgium-French Community:

  • Universities
  • University Colleges
  • Colleges of Arts

Higher Education Qualification in Belgium-French Community:

The degrees awarded by the higher education institutions of Belgium- French Community are-
  • Bachelor’s Degree: This degree lasts for 3 years.
  • Master’s Degree: This degree lasts for 1-2 years.
  • Doctorate Degree: This degree lasts for 3 years. The duration varies. 
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